Achieving Xcel Energy’s industry leading goal of providing 85% carbon-free energy in the Upper Midwest by 2030 requires a forward looking, thoughtful analysis of the best way to meet this vision while maintaining reliable electricity and keeping bills low for our customers.
Our 2020-2034 Minnesota Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is the vehicle we will use to identify the path forward to meet this vision. Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, we will work with stakeholders to develop our preferred plan, which will then be considered by the Public Utilities Commission.
Minnesota law requires utilities to file an Integrated Resource Plan about every two years. The plan takes a long-term look at what resources a company needs to serve its customers over the next 15 years. The plan looks at existing power plants, potential new power plants, energy efficiency, customer energy use, and other aspects of the utility system. The filing, including all of the analysis and data, encompasses thousands of pages.
Specialized software is used to analyze the various scenarios we may face in the future, and stimulates the ways our customers would be impacted. What happens if new wind and solar are added while coal plants are retired? Conversely, what if customers need more electricity for new uses, such as electric vehicles? Are new transmission lines needed to connect new energy resources? What will all of this cost? These are some of the questions we ask, analyze, answer and base proposals on in an IRP.
Integrated Resource Plans always bring important issues to the table. 2019 provides a unique opportunity because the Public Utilities Commission has required Xcel Energy to evaluate when all of our large coal and nuclear plants should be retired and if early retirement is appropriate for any of the plants. Most of these plants are currently expected to run to 2030 or beyond.
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